Heat Pump Water Heaters

Transforming the market to higher-performing water heaters.

For the last decade, NEEA has been working to transform the market for efficient heat pump water heaters (HPWHs). HPWHs are a highly efficient technology that has been available and widely used around the world for almost 30 years but has yet to gain major traction in the U.S. market. 

Though today’s models are twice as efficient as standard electric water heaters, HPWHs have faced market barriers common for efficient products – higher up-front costs, low awareness among customers and installers, and no product specification to guide manufacturers.

Influencing the Market:

The Northwest has established a regional goal of attaining 30% market share for HPWHs by 2030. To meet this goal, increase product availability and enable utility rebate programs, the alliance developed the Advanced Water Heating Specification (AWHS) to drive higher performing electric HPWHs. The AWHS, which addresses overall performance, has five tiers of products representing increasing levels of energy efficiency. While the AWHS is rooted in ensuring performance in cooler northern climates, its applicability and benefits extend well beyond the Northwest. The AWHS also enhances the end goals of NEEA's water heating programs - to influence the passage of federal standards.

Setting the Standard

To achieve the national scale required to influence a federal standard and keep manufacturers engaged the alliance is encouraging national partners to adopt the AWHS and a national consumer awareness campaign focused on HPWHs is underway. One promising path forward is that heat pumps provide a key greenhouse gas reduction opportunity for local and state governments adopting aggressive climate goals, and water heaters are also an important tool for utilities to reduce peak load.

Finally, the alliance is actively supporting product advancement to ensure efficient options are available for all climates and installation situations. NEEA is working with manufacturers to add smart controls to product lines and develop a long-term market transformation strategy for water heaters in the region. These demand response-enabled water heaters also have the potential to deliver a host of other benefits, including lower utility costs and better integration of renewable energy into the grid, to help ensure a reliable and efficient power supply for generations to come.

HPWH success story callout

Breaking Down the Barriers

Using its proven market transformation approach, the alliance set out to understand and characterize each market barrier and then designed strategies to address each one.


  • 60,000 HPWHs sold in the Northwest
  • Five Product Tiers added to the AWHS
  • HPWH products offered by 100% of HPWH manufacturers